It takes tools, time, love, and a whole lot of hard work to grow a blog, just like growing a garden! Here are some of the resources and tools that are used to create, share, and grow here at Green in Real Life blog. I’ve also included extra information and handy links for readers who are interested in taking their own adventure into websites, social media, photography, gardening, crafting, and more.
Creating and Sharing our Blog
Green in Real Life - The Early Years
When Green in Real Life first started, it was created and hosted on Google’s free Blogger platform (greeninreallife.blogspot.com) using a free Blogger template that I incrementally tweaked and customised over the years to suit my needs. As time went on, the blog grew and I wanted more flexibility over formatting and sharing. With some trepidation, I took the big step of changing the entire construct of our website, from branding to platform (currently ongoing). I don’t regret starting with Blogger – it’s a great tool (especially if you learn a little bit of coding) and free is hard to beat as a start-up, but it is painful transitioning. If you dream of growing big, perhaps you’d like to start with bigger boots and grow into them, if your budget allows.
Green in Real Life - Current Website
When Green in Real Life outgrew its old construct, I decided to make a switch not only to a custom domain, but to rebuild and refresh the entire blog from branding to platform. Our website is currently operating using WordPress via SiteGround (referral link). I can be a tad obsessive about researching options before deciding, but thus far I’m really happy to have made the choice to go with SiteGround for my hosting and more. Their packages made the transition much simpler and smoother, and I’m already planning to shift my other (unrelated to this blog) domains and websites to their services when time and other commitments allow me to make the swap.
Blog Resources and Tools
Here are some of the key systems and services we currently use and their function for the blog:
- SiteGround – Website Hosting, Security, Optimisation (referral link)
- WordPress – Website Platform and Construct
- Blossom Themes – Website Theme Design
- Elementor – Post Construction Tools
- Yoast SEO – Site Optimisation
- Google – Adsense, Analytics, Gmail
- Dropbox – Free Download File Storage (referral link)
Imagery is a big part of what we share here on the blog and our social media. In fact, as shared in our introduction, photography was one of the reasons Green in Real Life was created. See below for information on my photography resources and tools.
Social Media and More
Getting Started on Social Media
If you’re a keen gardener looking for like-minded friends or a photo buff looking for a place to share, social media might be the right fit. It can be a great place to hang out and make connections, with or without a blog. For most people, social media requires a lot less time, commitment, and investment than running a dedicated website.
Different platforms fit different niches, styles, and individual preferences so experiment with what works best for you personally. Don’t try to do it all (although you might want to nab your preferred names/handles, just in case – you never know where you might grow!). Social media can be a huge time suck. Balance your time and be gentle with yourself.
Join Green in Real Life on Social Media
If you’re not already following the fun, I’d love for you to join Green in Real Life on your favourite social media platforms. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Hope to see you here, there, and everywhere! 🍃
Fun with Photography
Explore the Blog for Photography Projects and Inspiration
You can find all of the photography related posts in our blog archives under the Photography tag.
What’s in My Camera Bag (and Beyond)
My camera equipment and software has evolved over the years, but, at present, my go-to is my Canon 5D. I have a fantastic Manfrotto tripod and basic monopods for mobility. My gear includes a variety of different lenses, extensions, and other accessories. I sometimes use lenses for specific purposes – e.g. landscape wide angle, wildlife telephoto, etc. Other times, I prefer a broad range zoom as an all-in-one compromise. It’s much easier to travel or hike with a smaller camera bag and less gear.
I have a Lowpro Slingshot backpack for outings and hikes. The single strap makes it convenient to flip it to the front and safely access equipment on the fly. I also have a Lowpro Passport Sling, which I use for a more discrete look whilst travelling. I have an ultra discrete Kelly Moore B-Hobo purse style camera bag. It was a gift many years ago and I love it (and it still looks fabulous!).
In addition to learning hands-on, I have a Diploma in Photography and a Cert IV in Digital Design, specialising in digital photography. I use Adobe Photoshop for any edits and Picasa (yep – I still have a copy!) for making quick colleges for here on the blog. Within Photoshop, I do most of my editing manually, but I do love my Topaz tools (referral link) and have a number of actions both bought and self-recorded to streamline my workflow.
Don’t Let Equipment Stop You from Having Photography Fun
You don’t need fancy equipment to take nice photos (although admittedly it sometimes helps). I love photography and have both the camera gear and software for other purposes, not specifically for creating this blog. If you want to explore photography but can’t afford fancy equipment, that’s perfectly okay! It’s your vision and skill matter in making a great photo, whether it’s on a camera phone or DSLR. Play around and keep developing your underpinning photography techniques.
I have great equipment, but I also still turn to my mobile phone for quick snaps. It’s almost always with me, whereas lugging heavy camera gear is reserved for special outings. My iPhone gets quite a work out on random opportunity shots and I love the quick panoramas. It’s also handy for garden records.
Gardening and Growing
My Gardening and Growing Tools and Resources
Our go-to garden tools, resources, and supplies are always evolving and changing. Here are some of the main tools and resources in current use:
- Gardening Tools: I have too many to name, but it’s worth paying for quality tools and taking good care. Fiskars, Holman, Gardenia, and Kent and Stow are some of my current favourites.
- Planting: In addition to all the standard goodies, I’m currently using EverGrow root bags to fit more variety into the garden (and meet our covenant restrictions). So far so good, but I want to give them a few years on trial before posting, so I’ll share a detailed post in the future.
- Propagating: I use a wide range of propagating supplies and tools. Right now, I’m loving my fertilpot propagation experiments (still in trial) and the glasshouse is, of course, helpful. I buy plants from local nurseries, propagate my own, and Kings Seeds NZ is a favourite supplier.
- Glasshouse Growing: Our glasshouse was a kitset construction purchased from Trulux NZ. I’m not going to lie – it was hard work assembling, even with a handy hubby, but it is very good quality. It’s made to last and the kits are comprehensive instead of a base plus a bijillion add-ons.
- Soil and Compost: I buy soil, compost, fertilisers, and other amendments from a variety of suppliers, local and online. I also use a Hungry Bin worm farm as noted in the Greener living tools and resources below. It’s great for creating rich compost and liquid fertiliser.
My Greener Living Tools and Resources
Unlike some of the more hand-on aspects of this blog, there are no magical resources or life-changing tools to recommend for greener living. Make changes over time as they work for you and your household. Use what you have wisely, replace things with greener options as they wear out, invest in things that will last, and add or upgrade when it make sense for you to make a change for the better.
- Every Day Living: It continues to be a very gradual transition. As things are worn out, they’re replaced by better options, if available and feasible. Slowly as we go, a little better all the time.
- Gardening and Growing: See the section above for details on our gardening resources and tools.
- Rubbish and Recycling: Our household recycling is a council service, with the exception of soft plastics which have a special program. Check out our ideas for improving household recycling.
- Composting: We create more green waste than we can reasonably manage on our urban section. I have a Hungry Bin worm farm for “the good stuff”. Expensive, but well-designed and built to last. It’s great for creating rich compost for top dressing/blending as well as liquid fertiliser. I use a green waste bin collection service for our lower value and excess.
- Energy Efficiency: We’ve moved a lot over the years, so tools and resources have varied. When we built our current home, we invested in solar panels, used in conjunction with Power Genius to improve our household energy efficiency. Other features, like concrete floors, cross flow ventilation, efficient lighting, and ceiling fans help to reduce our power needs. We try to be smart with our appliances. Some even have outlets programmed to draw power during solar generation. Other choices are far more manual – like air drying laundry. We try to use power wisely and export our excess, but we live flexibly and comfortably, not frugal with consumption.
- Water Efficiency: We have a giant rainwater tank plumbed to feed our non-potable water supply for outdoor taps, toilets, and laundry. I collect some additional rainwater in the garden, and am planning to add supplementary mini-tanks to the glasshouse roof.
Arts, Crafts, and DIY
My Crafting Tools, Equipment, and Materials
There’s so many crafty things that I love working with and since I enjoy experimenting/crafting new things, it changes all the time! Here are some of the main tools and resources in my craft stash:
- Sewing: I currently use a Brother sewing machine and a Brother serger. I like having cutting options, including a sharp set of scissors reserved for fabric, general purpose scissors, snips for tiny tasks, and a rotary cutter. Without any doubt, one of my most used craft items is my self-healing cutting mat. I use and abuse it as my work area topper/protector, not just for cutting fabric. Fabric depends on the project and what’s in my stash or on sale.
- Needle Felting: I use a Clover needle felting pen tool and find it very easy to handle. My favourite roving is from Ashford, locally produced here in New Zealand.
- Paper Crafts: I don’t make nearly as many paper crafts as I used to in the days of paper photos and scrapbooking. I’ve destashed a lot of my supplies, but kept a supply of scrapbook paper for use as photo backdrops. It’s an easy, versatile, and inexpensive option for small scale shots, like blog photos. I also kept my Fiskars cutters. They’re great for random paper cutting needs.
- Jewellery Making: I used to make and sell jewellery, so I have a lot (a lot!) of beads and findings. I recently gave away a giant box to a budding artist – it felt so good! For storage, I use basic stackable compartmentalised storage containers from the hardware store. For crafting with metal findings, pliers (I like having flat, bent, and round nose), and cutters are essential.
- General Purpose: General purpose supplies like pencils, markers, ink, stamps, paint, brushes, and other basic craft supplies that have slowly built-up over the years. I’m actively trying to use what I have and keep my craft stash from growing out of control.
- Special Purpose: I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 for computer controlled cutting. Hubby also has laser cutting and engraving gear in his workshop that I can tap in to, if needed.